Blue Dot Soap–Ocean Beach

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zero waste heading
In the category of brilliant ideas that someone actually got their crap together and acted on is the soap refill depot “Blue Dot Soap Refill,” that I’m proud to say popped up in my hometown of Ocean Beach, CA in 2014.

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The concept is pretty simple: why do we buy new plastic containers (each of which will last for thousands of years in a landfill) each time we run out of soap, when we could refill it from a giant reusable barrel of the same stuff? Blue Dot Soap Refill has pretty much everything from laundry detergent to hand lotion, and you can refill many of the brands that someone shopping at the natural food store would be accustomed to like Ecos and Shikai. You bring in your containers (or you can use some from the ‘recycle bin’ of extra containers people bring into the store), you let the staff know what you want, and you return later, with everything refilled. Alternately, you can hang out in the store and try out the different products on offer.

As someone who harbors deep suspicions about the recyclability of some plastic, this store answers a question that I’ve been asking myself for years (why do I keep buying everything wrapped in plastic–there must be a better way!) Most of my solution in the past has been to stop buying liquid soaps–and to move towards making my own, but there are some things where the liquid product works a lot better, like laundry detergent. They were not able to help me refill my squeeze bottle of Shikai lotion (it would be great if companies would design their packaging for refill-ability), but I could get the same lotion in one of the bottles in the recycling bin.

One thing I wonder is whether this model could be built into existing grocery stores more easily. Perhaps Blue Dot would want to consider an in-store franchise? And why stop at soap? What about dairy products like yogurt? That’s up next…

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